The defending champions beat Rose rivals Jets with a goal in the dying seconds of the game in round 11. But with the Welsh outfit experiencing a resurgence in form in the second phase of the Superlegaue season, especially at home, Thunder will need to take their A-game to Wales to retain their unbeaten run.
Dragons were winless and rock-bottom of the table until a dramatic last-gasp win over Loughborough Lightning in round nine was followed up with a solid victory over team Northumbria the next week. However, Thunder’s rivals Surrey Storm inflicted a heavy defeat over Dragons last week, with a 30-73 win.
Looking ahead to the Dragons game, Black and Yellows captain Sara Bayman said: “Last week’s match against Jets highlighted the fact that we didn’t convert our turnovers. We had the chances and we didn’t take them. We can’t afford to lose it (the ball) in the attacking end and give sloppy ball away. That’s what we need to address going forward, especially as we head into the semis because everyone will crank it up an extra gear and turnovers will be precious.”
With the news that Thunder will play their semi final match at the Manchester Arena and that over 1,000 tickets were sold in the first 24 hours, Bayman and her team mates are all too aware of how significant it will be in putting netball on the map. “It is huge, massive for Thunder and the atmosphere we have at the Thunderdome, to get that at the arena would be amazing and you can really feel the crowd. It lifts you, it makes a huge difference and to get that five or six times over at Manchester Arena would be phenomenal. We want to sell as many tickets as er can and hopefully our fans will come out in force for us,” she said.
Celtic Dragons vs Manchester Thunder, Saturday April 4, 2pm, Cardiff.
Report by Denise Evans